I think it’s nationalism. The very phenomenon which according to fellow blogger Multibrand and Desi Anwar in a Jakarta Globe article, perhaps is diminishing in Indonesia. If that’s true it might be a pity as well as a blessing in disguise.
Most people consider patriotism and nationalism to be virtuous. I also unconditionally love a few parts of nationalism. The street-parties at the Dutch Queen’s Day for instance. But I can’t deny it sometimes provokes my laugh. It is hard to keep serious watching the coming to attention of a bunch of men and women often in fancy uniforms, the solemnly hoisting of a flag by perfectly grown ups, the collectively out of tune singing of a bombastic hymn, the stiff saluting of a cloth of textile and the measured way people put their left hand over the heart region. But it’s worse if nationalism starts to corrode people’s common sense. When it turns into jingoism.
My grandson Kris, whose real name is even better and much more complicated*, is two years old and holds two passports. He doesn’t know nor cares about them. Nationality is not an issue to him yet, let alone nationalism. Blessed innocence.
I’ve got secret plans to tell him that he could keep it that way. We humans don’t have a specific nationality gene to survive. We can do without it like we can do without our appendix. It usually doesn’t cause any harm but it may become inflamed. Unfortunately nationalism is socially contagious. Culture and social environment make some people lust for military parades and patriotic speeches. So better safe than sorry. Some preventive educational measures should be considered.
Kris’ innocence has been preserved till now. But I’m realistic. It probably will not last forever. Without protection the disease will get him. Perhaps even before he reaches the tender age at which his main interest will shift to testing the theory of the flowers and bees. He already is attending school in his neighbourhood in South Jakarta. Schools are breeding grounds of nationalistic identities. Two years old, mind you! Real nice and kind ladies teach him to socialize with other kids, to cook and most of all play. And to get him accustomed to national celebrations and singing. Before long he will take for granted the likes of Independence Day and the rituals that go with it. Soon he will know about flags and greetings and all that jazz. And, who knows, he some time in the future will add a few Dutch public holidays with their own specific nationalistic peculiarities and rituals to his repertoire.
By that time he will need a very sound mentality to avoid turning into a schizophrenic patriot .
What can I do about it? How can I save him?
Not much. Too far away, too peripheral in his toddler’s daily experience. I can only rely on the wisdom of his parents ( well, their educational wisdom is beyond doubt ) and hope and expect he will rise above nationalism. And I can try to occasionally vaccinate him with a limited additional supply of social antibiotics in order to make him to take part in festivities but at the same time reject all kinds of political nationalism. That he will never embrace the my-country-right-or-wrong- nationalism. That he as a grown up will be committed to the community in which he lives and observe his civil obligations, but always will use his humanistic critical mind.
I trust he will. He is a bright boy after all. A genuine Indodutch .
* Wisanggeni Dewa Krishnahatma. Not a suitable name to start an artistic career, if you ask me .
**Added second picture of Kriss at the special request off Hijjaz .